Some here say that the loss is as much on the players as it is on the coaches, or more so. Some point to Wylie's fumble as the reason the Titans lost to the Colts. Others point of terrible missed calls on the part of the game officials (McCourty PI, No-call Headbutt, Luck well short but given a first, etc). There are merits to all of these arguments, so let's take a step back and look at this team in the ever-critical year 3 of Mike Munchak's tenure.
This coaching staff had the chance to go out and build an NFL team in their image. They had as close to free reign as it is going to get in the NFL as far as going out in FA and getting the guys they wanted. They had a quality GM infusing the roster with young talent like Kendall Wright, ATV, Zach Brown, Akeem Ayers, Chance Warmack, Jake Locker, etc etc, and making wise moves to bring in leaders from outside the team. With this young roster, Munch went out and selected his own staff to mold this franchise into a winner again, and he was given plenty of time to do it. It sounds rosy when you look at it that way.
The results? After 3 years, the Titans are 4-11 in the AFC South, and 3-16 against teams with a winning record. They have lost to a winless team (late in the season I might add) every single year. That is nothing short of complete failure and a trajectory that will get a team nowhere. Like the players' performances under their watch, the staff has been up and down. Munch undoubtedly hit on gems like Shawn Jefferson, Tracy Rocker, Gregg Williams, Keith Millard, and even Brett Maxie. Too bad those coaches have been coupled with Munch's under-qualified buddies in a quasi-nepotist system that has held the team back, and wasted years.
Bruce Matthews has been a giant failure as an offensive line coach, and there was no reason to believe otherwise after a horrible tenure in Houston. Despite being provided with upper echelon talent, he can't get any kind of running game going. Jerry Gray fielded one of the worst defenses in NFL history, and somehow remained on staff. The kicker there is that this group looks great when they are played in an aggressive manner, but Gray's love for the soft zone has killed this team countless times. That is on Munch to correct. Despite having one of the most talented young OLB's in the league in Zach Brown, and another potentially great LB in Akeem Ayers, Munch's crony Chett Parlavecchio has driven the LB corps into the ground. And then there's Loggains, who may yet prove to be a good OC, but not yet. He is vastly under-experienced and, despite a good first half against the Colts, has screwed the team out of more than one win this year. And then Special teams...Do I even need to go there? Munch fires Alan Lowry for little apparent reason and replaces him with the most grossly under-qualified candidate in the NFL in Nate Kazcor. Surprise, surprise: the team goes on to field what must be the among the most futile units league wide, and a group that has continually cost the Titans games.
We can blame the Colts (and Jags) loss on any number of players. There has no doubt been execution issues throughout the team this year, and that falls on their shoulders. But players have come and gone in the past three years, and the roster today is one of the more radically changed groups in the league from last year to now. Yet Titans fans are still subjected to a team that is magnetically attracted to 8-8 mediocrity. In my mind, and I know in the minds of many Titans fans, the excuses are hollow. Mike Munchak has worn out his welcome, and for him and his "boy's club" cabinet of coaches, it's time to go.
I don't think there is any reason this roster shouldn't be winning games. They have possibly the best DT and CB in football at present with Jurrell Casey and Alterraun Verner, a young corps of talented wide receivers led by one of the more explosive slot players in the league in Kendall Wright. The team also boasts one of the most accomplished RBs in the league in Chris Johnson, a multi-million dollar offensive line, and ascending talents like Zach Brown, among others. To top it all off, they had Jake Locker to work with.
After a lockout three years ago, Munch took over the Titans with promises of change and accountability, and he has failed to deliver on those promises. Like someone mentioned to me yesterday, Munch is not Fisher, but the student can only be so different from the teacher. Beyond this, the areas of the team he set out to improve have stagnated badly.
I am ready for the team to start fresh, and I mean, really hit the reboot button this time. No more interior hires from the same old country club of old men thinking fondly back on the Oiler days, who have produced nothing but mediocre to poor results in the past. Expecting different is insanity. The team's fans deserve better; they deserve a coaching staff with football game-plans based in this decade, who use the tools on hand and adapt their approach to them instead of the other way around, a staff who goes out and picks the best coaches for the job, not guys they roomed with in college. They deserve a team who plays to win, not one that scrambles furiously "not to lose" and shovels excuses of turnovers down fan's mouths by the shovel-full. More than this, it pains me to see careers of young men who should be stars, ATV, Wright, Casey, etc. wasted by a staff who has no clue what they are doing and, after three years, still lacks any realized identity. These players, these fans, they deserve more.
Exactly who those coaches are I couldn't tell you. Nor can I predict what the future holds for the Tennessee Titans, this year or next. What I do know is what I would like to see; and that is a clean break from the old-school, stubborn, approaches of yesteryear, and a real fresh start for a team that desperately needs it.